DONEGAL TIMES

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August 14th 2002

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The Saga of Barney ‘the Butt’

By Our Environment Correspondent

The strange story of Barney McGinley, accused of throwing the end of a cigarette out of his car window on Winetavern Street in Dublin, was aired on the Pat Kenny Show recently. Barney, originally from the Townawilly area, was reported by a member of the public, who claimed to have witnessed the littering offence. Duly a summons was served and Barney was in court before a judge. A fine of €50 was imposed which Barney, though convinced he was innocent, was prepared to pay. But when his Lordship added €125 costs on top, Barney saw red and reneged, saying he was prepared to fight his case right up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

So stalemate - our man, while admitting he smokes self-rolled cigarettes, claims he never committed the offence - the State says he did and must pay the penalty. Certainly not much sympathy from listeners who phoned in to the show after hearing the item. Almost all condemned Barney as guilty and said he should pay up.

Personally I would say that Barney is innocent - Townawilly and Lough Eske people are known for their tigh .... ’er .... thriftiness, and I never knew of one who wouldn’t smoke his fag down to the wee’est butt’een, so minuscule, that whatever was thrown out of the car window could hardly be regarded as litter.


Record Land Price Bid at Local Auction

Rumours that deal has collapsed refuted by Auctioneer

On Monday 29th July, at just ten minutes past the appointed hour of 2.30, the auction commenced. Under the hammer was 10.5 acres at Ardeskin, the property of John ‘Celtic’ Cassidy. In the room were about 50 persons. The auctioneer Keith Anderson was accompanied at the top table by Kathleen Dolan, Solicitor. Bidding started at €500,000 and, for nearly twenty minutes, continued non-stop. At the million, after a consultation with the vendor, the land was declared on the market. In leaps, first of €50k and then €25k, the price continued to escalate until it had reached the incredible total of €1.625 million. Top bidder was developer Charlie McNulty.

We were all amazed - was land around Donegal Town really that valuable - could anyone get a return after paying €160,000 an acre? Were all of us possessing a few acres near town set for a Klondike?

Well maybe not! Within days, rumours had started that the deal had fallen through - but just as we were about to go to press, auctioneer Keith Anderson refuted this claim to Donegal Times. “It has not fallen through - there has been a contract signed and the matter is with the solicitors at the moment”.


A REAL EYE OPENER

By our Home Affairs Correspondent

One early morning last week I had an unnerving experience. Having fallen asleep with the TV on, I awoke around 3.30am. to find solicitor John Ward gazing at me from the screen. Very unsettling! However the explanation was simple - it was a repeat of the ‘Prime Time’ programme from the previous night on which the Quay Street lawyer made an appearance to join in a discussion about the Shortt case.

Frankie Dettori eat your heart out - 12 year old Martin Harley emulates his idol as he springs from the saddle after riding Golden Sands to victory in the second race at Ballintra. Photo: Conor Sinclair


Drumlonagher Retail Proposal Refused by An Bord Pleanala

Shock and Disbelief in Local Community

The decision of An Bord Pleanala to refuse the Drumlonagher Retail Proposal has been greeted with shock and dismay by the people of Donegal who had been looking forward with great excitement to the enhancement of the existing shopping facilities in the town.

The application, which was submitted by Mullingar based developer Christopher Bennett and Son (Construction) Limited, sought consent for the erection of a superstore selling food and non-food items (understood to be Dunnes Stores) and for ten factory outlet units selling fashion items, slight seconds/end of line goods, pottery, china, glassware etc. It was refused by the Board on 30th July 2002 for the following reasons:

1. Having regard to the location of the proposed development at an out of centre/out of town location on the periphery of and 1.5 kilometers from the centre of Donegal town and within an area designated as a Development Potential Area in the current Donegal Town Development Plan where the zoning objective is “… to provide for lower density new forms of retail and commercial development appropriate to a parkland setting and complementary to the higher density activities under zone C (that is, town centre area)”, it is considered that by reason of its scale, nature and location, the proposed development would conflict with the zoning objective set out in that Plan and with the provisions of Paragraph 65 of the Retail Planning Guidelines for Planning Authorities issued by the Department of the Environment and Local Government in December, 2000, for the following reasons:-

(a) Taken together, the two proposed retail buildings (the retail convenience comparison store and the ten retail factory outlet units) would result in a net retail floorspace which is in excess of the net retail floorspace cap for this area.

(b) The scale and range of goods to be sold would not be complementary to the range of activities and services in the town centre nor would it create commercial synergy with the town centre. Consequently, the proposed development would have an adverse effect upon and would undermine the vitality and viability of the existing town centre.

(c) The layout of the proposed car-orientated development has a preponderance of buildings and hard surface areas. As a result, it would conflict with the zoning objective, as set out in the current Development Plan for the area, which requires that the proposed development be located within a “parkland setting” setting.

The proposed development would, therefore, contravene materially the zoning objectives set out in the current Donegal Town Development Plan for this site and would be contrary to the proper planning and development of the area.

2. It is considered that the proposed development, by reason of its location, scale and intensity, would be premature pending the finalisation and adoption of the retail development strategy for County Donegal as required by the Retail Planning Guidelines for planning authorities issued by the Department of the Environment in December, 2000.’

REPORT CRITICAL

In a scathing report, Laurie Mulrine, the Inspector, who was appointed by the Board to assess the third party appeals lodged by the Retail, Grocery, Dairy and Allied Trades Association (RGDATA) and Tesco Ireland Limited, criticises Donegal County Council for approving the application. Within his report to the Board he states that:

‘I would have thought that the planning authority would have expressed considerable caution with regard to the development of such a large scale retail development on the periphery of Donegal Town.’

Mr. Mulrine expressed considerable concern within his report about the scale of the development and its potential impact on the centre of Donegal Town. Overall he felt that the proposal had the potential to cause the range of services and facilities in the town centre to diminish and as a consequence it would seriously undermine its vitality and viability. Although the applicants had suggested the provision of a bus link between the centre of the town and the site and had entered into negotiations with the Donegal Railway Restoration Society about the provision of a rail link to the site, Mr Mulrine regarded these suggestions as ‘something of an afterthought’ and unlikely to materialise. He feared that car borne shoppers would arrive at Drumlonagher, via the new bypass and make their various purchases in that area and never visit the town centre at all.

REVLIN PARK

With the Drumlonagher application now refused, the hopes and aspirations of the people of Donegal for enhanced shopping and leisure facilities rests with the Revlin Park development which is being promoted by a consortium of local businessmen led by Danny Keeney of Keeney Construction limited. The proposals for the Revlin Park development, which were originally submitted to Donegal County Council in July 2001, seek consent for a mixed use development comprising a supermarket, Garda Station and Court House; a Fast Food Restaurant; 2 car showrooms; a retail warehouse for the sale of bulky non-food items; 3 screen cinema; hotel; holiday apartments; nursing home; health centre; education centre; community centre accommodating a swimming pool, hall, crèche, children’s adventure play area and meeting rooms; business/office units and a linear park.

Notices recently appeared in the Irish Independent stating that the Council intend to consider granting planning permission for the Revlin Park Development. The proposals are now due to be considered by the elected Councillors at a meeting of the Full Council on 30th September 2002. The proposals will not be approved unless 75% of elected councillors vote in their favour.

KEENEY CONFIDENT

The Times caught up with Danny Keeney, who is on holiday in the area at present, and asked him for his views on the current state of play. Whilst Danny was frustrated with the delays in issuing a decision on his planning applications, he confirmed that he was pleased that the Council Officials had now decided to support the Revlin Park proposals. He confirmed that the multi-disciplinary team of planning consultants, architects, landscape architects, economists, ecologists, engineers and hydrologists involved in the project had now satisfied all of the concerns raised by the Council. According to Danny ‘it’s up to the elected councillors now at their meeting on 30th September 2002.’

When asked if the Council members were likely to approve the Revlin Park Proposals, Danny said that he would be disappointed and surprised if they didn’t. He drew attention to the overwhelming expression of public support for the Revlin Park proposals which is evident from letters and petitions on the public files. He also referred to the public exhibition which was held in Donegal Town in September last year and to a survey undertaken at it and to a separate survey undertaken by Tesco Ireland which showed 91% and 98% respectively of the respondents in favour. He said that ‘a negative decision by the Councillors would deprive the electorate of South Donegal of a range of new retail and leisure facilities which are predicted to create up to 600 new jobs.’

Danny urged any Councillor or member of the public to contact him if they had concerns about the proposal. He also confirmed that he was in negotiations with potential occupiers for all of the proposed uses on the site but unfortunately these cannot be progressed until planning permission is granted, which was frustrating for all concerned. He advised that Tesco Ireland was still committed to developing a new store on the Revlin site and, subject to a favourable decision by the Councillors would commence construction works before the end of the year.

DIFFERENT TO DRUMLONAGHER

When asked about the outcome of the Drumlonagher appeal and its implications for the Revlin proposals, Danny said that the proposals at Revlin were very different in nature to those at Drumlonagher. He remarked that his site was much larger than the Drumlonagher site and the range of uses proposed addressed major deficiencies in retail, leisure, business and educational facilities in Donegal Town which could neither be accommodated in the town centre or at Drumlonagher. He said that the retail element of the development proposed at Revlin was much smaller than that at Drumlonagher and it was also significantly closer to the town centre (only 750 metres as opposed to 1500 metres) which he felt would lead to better commercial synergy between the two. This was a view which was shared by the entire consortium who have existing business interests in the town centre. He also said that since the Board issued the decision on the Drumlonagher proposal, the Council had published their retail development strategy which showed a need for additional retail floor space in Donegal Town. In these circumstances he was confident that the scheme would be granted.

STRONG CASE

Assuming that the Revlin proposals were granted Donegal Times asked Danny if he was aware of any third party objectors who might lodge an appeal against them. He said that RGDATA, who are funded by the Musgrave Group and who are also the owners of Supervalu, are likely to lodge an appeal against the supermarket proposal on the grounds of it having an adverse impact on other businesses in the town. Should they lodge such an appeal, Danny feels that he has a very strong case to defend, particularly in view of the appeal decision on Drumlonagher, the conclusions of the recently published Retail Development Strategy and the widespread support from both existing businesses and shoppers in Donegal. He could see no reason why any individual or body would lodge an appeal against the other uses proposed on the site as these would be of enormous benefit to the area. This is a view which is shared by the vast majority of people in Donegal.

We at the Times urge all Councillors to vote in favour of the Revlin Park proposals on 30th September 2002. With the Drumlonagher scheme now dead and buried, it represents the last chance for the people of Donegal to benefit from enhanced leisure and retail facilities. Don’t let us down!


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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